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Old May 25, 2019, 10:02 AM   #1
Bottom Gun
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Federal Trophy Copper Bullets

I’ve been considering trying some Federal Trophy Copper bullets for big game. I’ve never used copper bullets in a rifle before and was wondering if these Federal Trophy Copper bullets produced any more copper fouling than traditional jacketed bullets.
Would there be any advantage to using these bullets or should I just stick with my tried and true Nosler Partitions?
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Old May 25, 2019, 11:33 AM   #2
jmr40
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There isn't a lot of difference in performance between any of the copper bullets. Used the way they are designed they work great but all the rules are different. Pretty much everything you know about traditional bullets no longer applies with copper.

For the same weight they are longer and take up powder space resulting in slower velocity for any given bullet weight. You can't use the same load data if you reload.

They also retain much more of their initial weight so they tend to penetrate much deeper than traditional bullets.

They also need a lot more speed at impact to expand. Around 2000 fps impact speed is pretty much minimum and 2200 is better.

Due to all of the above it is usually advised to go down at least 1 or maybe even 2 bullet weights lighter than you'd normally need. This ensures faster impact speeds and you'll still get about the same penetration. I can load 130's in my 308 to about 3000 fps and get about the same penetration as a 180 gr fired from a 300 WM at about 3000 fps. I wouldn't go any heavier than 150's in a 308. The heavier bullets need at least 30-06 and probably 300 magnum speeds to be effective.

But the lighter bullet also slows down faster. With most cartridges and bullets copper will drop below the 2000-2200 fps threshold at around 300-400 yards. If you plan to shoot farther a softer lead based bullet will still expand down to 1600-1800 fps and will retain those speeds at much longer ranges.

At close to moderate ranges they work great. Especially from a rifle normally considered too small for the game hunted. If I were elk or moose hunting with a 243 I'd use copper. If you're using a cartridge considered suitable for the game hunted they certainly work, but not necessarily better than traditional bullets. But a lot of guys really like getting complete penetration on game even from odd angles. And they do that very well

The biggest mistake people make is using bullets too heavy and shooting them too slow. When that happens they don't expand and end up acting like FMJ.
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Old May 25, 2019, 11:37 AM   #3
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That's great information. Thanks!!!
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Old May 25, 2019, 01:02 PM   #4
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"...any advantage to using these bullets..." Only in places that no longer allow lead cored bullets. Don't think Arizona is one of 'em.
"...all the rules are different..." Yep. Has to do with the difference in density, mostly. Means you need data specifically for solids. Not a big deal anymore. And the same weight copper bullet will be a bit longer than a lead cored bullet.
You can compare 168 grain lead cored and 168 Barnes TTSX BT load data on Hodgdon's site. The TTSX with IMR4064 max load uses .9 of a grain less powder for ~ 100 PSI more pressure and less than 20 FPS.
Bambi, however, won't notice any difference.
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Old May 25, 2019, 01:42 PM   #5
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"...any advantage to using these bullets..." Only in places that no longer allow lead cored bullets.
I'm going to disagree with that. If you measure the weight retention of a normal cup-and-core bullet, you're looking at typically around 60 to 65 percent. That lead is going somewhere - MY MEAT. Weight retention of a pure copper bullet is around 98 percent. I'd much prefer to keep those lead fragments out of what I intend to eat.

That being said, my attempt to use copper bullets last year was less than successful. In both a 7mm-08 and 30-06 I tried using Hornady Superforamance and got less than desirable accuracy. From what I understand, that may not be the fault of the copper but the fact that Superformance doesn't do well in some rifles. I'm going to try Federals this year.
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Old May 25, 2019, 09:56 PM   #6
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Is there a difference in the end results shooting copper vs lead? I don't think so.
Only difference I know to be is >costs of.
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Old May 26, 2019, 01:15 PM   #7
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I would not stray from the Nosler Partition at all. It is likely one of the best all around lethal performers wherever big game is hunted.

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Old May 27, 2019, 12:12 AM   #8
big al hunter
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Would there be any advantage to using these bullets or should I just stick with my tried and true Nosler Partitions?
The only advantage I am aware of is that you could hunt in the areas of California that require non lead ammo to protect the condors. Other than that restriction, I would stick with lead core. Don't really care to visit California again anyway.
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Old May 27, 2019, 09:10 AM   #9
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They also need a lot more speed at impact to expand. Around 2000 fps impact speed is pretty much minimum and 2200 is better.
This is about right for Trophy Club, Nosler Raptor, Barnes, etc. from what I can find, but is not correct as a generalization about copper bullets. It really depends on the bullet construction and skiving. For example, Maker Bullets makes subsonic expanding Blackout bullet that opens at subsonic speeds. Here is one of their offerings... https://makerbullets.com/proddetail.php?prod=308110SBLK

Cutting Edge Bullets has their subsonic offerings as well. For example...
https://cuttingedgebullets.com/308-1...ubsonic-raptor

Lehigh Defense subsonic fracturing bullets...
https://www.lehighdefense.com/index....ackout-whisper

From reading various accounts on the web, Cavity Back Bullets' MKZ round will expand down to about 1100 fps. Barnes TTSX apparently need more velocity with a minimum of about 1800 fps.
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Old June 5, 2019, 04:44 PM   #10
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FWIW the 85 grain trophy copper is the single most accurate factory round in my savage 99 243. I haven’t beat it with handloads either, but match it with 100 grain Speer btsp.
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Old June 7, 2019, 02:32 PM   #11
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""...any advantage to using these bullets..." Only in places that no longer allow lead cored bullets. Don't think Arizona is one of 'em."

The only area where Arizona has a semi-restriction for copper bullets is the Kaibab National Forest and the Arizona Strip north of the Kaibab. Use of that type bullet nor required but the state asks hunters use them on a voluntary basis. Apparently it's part of the condor flyway. I've hunted that area about five times now over the years and frankly have never seen one of those oversized buzzards.



"I'm going to disagree with that. If you measure the weight retention of a normal cup-and-core bullet, you're looking at typically around 60 to 65 percent. That lead is going somewhere - MY MEAT. Weight retention of a pure copper bullet is around 98 percent. I'd much prefer to keep those lead fragments out of what I intend to eat."

I understand your concern but I think the danger is just slightly overrated. Odds are any lead ingested from game you've eaten will pass through and be gone before any harm is done. Most of that lead will most likely be in the area of bloodshot meat anyway and that's usually cut off and thrown away. Methinks the risk is greatly overrated.

For one roughly ten year period, my family and I lived probably half the years on venison from deer we've killed, plus small game and birds taken with a shotgun. For a much longer period I've worked with lead and lead alloys casting bullets from my use and for friends. When the big fuss over lead got going I started having my blood serum lead levels checked annually. Lead levels are within the normal range for a person of my age. FWIW, I started casting bullet at age 16, I'll be 81 come next August. I'm not worried about it.
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Old June 7, 2019, 02:43 PM   #12
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"Would there be any advantage to using these bullets or should I just stick with my tried and true Nosler Partitions?"

It depends. The big question for me would be, "Does my rifle like these bullets?" I shoot the Barnes TSX 225 gr. bullet in my .35 Whelen and it's one hell of an elk slayer. I've been trying to get the 100 gr. TSX to group in a .257 Roberts with no luck so far. The same goes for the 120 and 140 gr. TSX in three different 7x57 rifles plus a .280 Remington. I haven't given up on them yet but some rifles just don't like monometal bullets. Velocity is a factor as has already been mentioned. I will just say that my .35 Whelen can push that bullet to 2700 FPS and I've taken elk out as far as 350 yards. One shot and the elk died.

I do think it is a good idea to see if a rifle will take to copper bullets as a just in case deal. I'll be trying them in a few other calibers I shoot just in case the ecofreaks get a friendly Congress that does what California did and force us to use them. As alays, YMMV.
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